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Alarms available to residents in Jim Wells, Duval counties as well

Georgia Wingate Thompson, Kleberg County Correspondent

KINGSVILLE - Wyatt Wright of Wayne Wright Lawyers says in a traditional way he and the law firm have always been active in philanthropy with such things as the Muscular Dystrophy Association, but now they've found more of a fit with a grassroots campaign to put a smoke detector in every home.

The idea was born after the December 2006 smoke-related deaths of nine San Antonio people, which included former State Sen. Frank Madla, his granddaughter and mother-in-law. That idea, "Smoke Alarms in Every Home, a Charitable Campaign of Wayne Wright Lawyers" was for free smoke alarms to be provided by the law firm and installed by local firefighters.

The law firm has offices in Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Austin and Houston.

In seven months, the program has created partnerships with more than 55 different fire departments all over South Texas and has committed to donate more than 46,000 smoke alarms.

Kingsville received 200 smoke alarms on Tuesday and the city is the 58th to join the program.

"We are proud to partner with the Kingsville Fire Department because we know they'll go and install the alarms," said Wright.

He said the program also acts as a bridge between citizens and government as it allows government to come to people when they are not in crisis.

"How else could they go into a house and offer valuable tips and advice?" asked Wright. "The goal is to give peace of mind and in the long term to save a life."

He said firefighters have no better feeling than to drive up to a fire and see people on the front lawn because the firefighters know that people managed to get out of the burning building.

Kingsville Mayor Sam Fugate said the valuable smoke alarm project makes Kingsville a safer place and is an opportunity for the fire department to become involved with the citizens. He admitted to not owning a smoke detector, but vowed to go purchase one on his way home.

"This affects a lot of citizens and goes across the board," said Fugate.

Wright said the smoke alarms are for the asking, all Kingsville residents need do is to call the city's administrative number 592-6447 and make a request. Wright said a lot of people are told about the program by word of mouth and make the call.

He said that if people living in outlying areas such as Riviera, Ricardo, Orange Grove, Premont, Freer, San Diego or Alice would like to have a free smoke alarm installed they should call Wayne Wright Lawyers at 1-361-884-9600.

For fire departments wishing to participate in the Smoke Alarms in Every Home program they should call Katrina Campbell with Outside the Box Events and Public Relations at 1-210-481-1200.Wright says he doesn't see the need for smoke detectors ceasing anytime soon.

"I really don't see any indication of the market being saturated, maybe in possibly 150 years," said Wright. "There are a lot of older homes in communities that don't have a smoke detector and houses that started out with a smoke detector may not have one when someone else moves in."